West African nations plan to join their neighbours Cameroon, Chad and Congo Republic in enforcing a ban on full-face veils to counter Boko Haram's strategy of using female suicide bombers.
Boko Haram, the Nigerian terror group said to be even deadlier than the Islamic State for killing more people, has been using girls as young as 10 to carry out suicide bombings in crowded places in northern parts of Nigeria as well as in the neighbouring countries.
The president of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, which comprises 15 countries including Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Mali, said on Thursday that the member nations were planning to put a ban on the full-face veil in public.
"Certain dress codes, which make identification of the persons concerned difficult, may considerably hinder actions geared towards protecting people and properties. Leaders must take measures that would forbid this kind of dress that will not allow security personnel to be sure of their identities," ECOWAS Commission president Kadre Desire Ouedraogo said after the summit in Abuja, according to AFP.
Guinea's President Alpha Condé had reportedly called on the regional bloc to ban the full Islamic veil, according to AllAfrica.com.
Congo Republic was the first African nation to ban the full-face veil in May this year in agreement with its 800,000 Muslim population, according to reports.
Chad and Niger banned the full burqa for women in June and July respectively. In October, Chad police arrested 62 women for defying the ban and wearing full veils in public in the Muslim-majority country.
Last month, Senegal had proposed to forbid women from wearing the full Islamic veil.
The west African leaders' call comes as a UN official said that the young girls Boko Haram uses as suicide bombers are not to blame.
"Many of them don't know that they will be blown up with remote devices. I personally doubt that the children know. That means that it is not the person herself who did it," Leila Zerrougui, the UN secretary-general's special representative on children and armed conflict, told the media on Tuesday.
Just this week, the Nigerian army reportedly killed four female suicide bombers deployed by Boko Haram, local media had reported.